North Korea fires suspected ballistic missile in 14th test launch this year

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North Korea fired an unidentified projectile, suspected to be a ballistic missile, toward its east coast from Sunan airport in Pyongyang, South Korea and Japan have said.

South Korea‘s Joint Chiefs of Staff in a brief statement on Wednesday said that the launch was made off the North‘s eastern coast. However, no further details were provided.

It called North Korea‘s repeated ballistic missile launches “an act of grave threat” to undermine international peace and security and a violation of UN Security Council resolutions banning any ballistic launch by the North.

Meanwhile, the Japanese coast guard said the object fired by Pyongyang is suspected to be a ballistic missile. Japanese Vice Defense Minister Makoto Oniki said the missile was believed to have landed in waters outside of the Japanese Exclusive Economic Zone. There has been no report of damage or injury reported from vessels and aircraft in the area.

Condemning the attack, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told reporters during his visit to Rome: “North Korea‘s series of actions that threatens the peace, safety and stability of the international community are impermissible.”

This launch is believed to be North Korea’s 14th round of weapons firing this year, according to the Associated Press.

The incident comes after North Korean leader Kim Jong-un showed off his most powerful missiles during a massive military parade in the capital, Pyongyang, last week where he vowed to expand the country’s nuclear capacity “at the fastest possible pace” and threatened to use them against rivals.

It also came just a week before a new president in South Korea is set to take office for a single five-year term.

Pyongyang’s resolve to bolster its military capabilities and reports of preparations for a nuclear test in the remote northeastern facility has raised concerns around the world.

The increased hostilities from North Korea have led to the US demanding further sanctions on the country at the UN security council.

The United States circulated an initial draft resolution to the 15-member council last month that proposed banning tobacco and halving oil exports to North Korea and blacklisting the Lazarus hacking group, asking the council to vote in May.

“It is our plan to move forward with that resolution during this month,” US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield told reporters recently. The United States is president of the Security Council for May.

“We’re very concerned about the situation,” Ms Thomas-Greenfield said. “It is our hope that we can keep the council unified in condemning those actions by the DPRK (North Korea).”

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